Fair Winds in the San Juans

Nine days away from Seattle was perfect. I had plenty of data in my Verizon hotspot to supply me with internet for the duration. I also did an oil and filter change, plus a new filter and water drain in the Racor 500 fuel separator. I wanted to do more but this would be okay until I get home and have more time to work on the engine. The water tanks were topped off right before I left and I had plenty of food and beverages to keep going without having to stop in a town to resupply. Satori was in ship shape for the San Juans and I had everything in order. This time I took a touring kayak so I could cruise around the island with something that did not consume fuel. I also brought the paddle board, so I had four different means of getting around while away. I did some scrubbing of the hull with my new wetsuit, replaced the zincs on the bobstay fitting and prop shaft, I rigged new reefing lines, plus a new outhaul system. The chain rode was also moved down and back to keep the bow light and I decided to use the old three-strand rode to learn about anchoring using line instead of chain. I also rigged the staysail boom in case I wanted to fly all three sails during a broad or beam reach. The fuel tanks were full and Satori couldn’t have been much more ready to leave the big city.

Using the GoPro iPhone app I was able to capture the spinnaker while the camera was raised up the halyard.
Using the GoPro iPhone app I was able to capture the spinnaker while the camera was raised up the halyard.

I left Seattle around 7am, which was during the outgoing tide. Getting north was no problem and at times I reached 10 knots with the boat going 5.5 knots and the current hitting 4.5 knots. Once through Admiralty Inlet it was just after slack tide, then heading north was during the incoming tide. This is the best way to get north quickly, and I will always follow this pattern when trying to travel long distances and make good time. I decided to stay in Anacortes the first night and try staying the night next to Cap Sante Marina. There is risk of running aground but if you follow the outside dredged lane southward to the first green buoy and then head towards shore, there is no risk of getting bottomed out as it stays above twelve feet until close to shore. The bottom is also very muddy so I knew it would hold well. The night turned out to be uneventful, but before leaving the next morning it seemed that the entire marina decided to go boating. The anchorage ended up becoming a choppy mess from all of the power boats heading out. If you are thinking about staying in Anacortes, consider other anchorages nearby with less boat traffic. Anacortes is a shitty spot to spend the night unless you make a very early departure.

Preset waypoints. Cruising speed over ground was as much as ten knots with the tide.
Preset waypoints. Cruising speed over ground was as much as ten knots with the tide.

 

I pulled anchor and raised sails as soon as I could, heading northeast around Guemes Island. At one point the winds died and I eventually motored back into the wind, then went under sail again. I tacked many times while staying close hauled to Doe Bay through channels and around many islands, just to warm up for the week of sailing around the islands. Beating to weather with inconsistent winds, opposing currents and lots of land in between put Satori close to Doe Bay but I was finally swept by the currents and out of frustration I fired up the engine and motored to the new anchorage. I wanted to experiment with a new technique on using a bridle to position Satori’s bow into the waves created by other vessels heading down Rosario Strait but still keep her held by anchor. When the winds were up I could maintain a solid position and ride waves from the bow but when the winds died she would move out of control and using a bridle proved to be of no use.

Doe Bay Resort artisan foods
Doe Bay Resort artisan foods

 

Office at Doe Bay
Office at Doe Bay

 

Spending the night in Doe Bay provides a nice way to save money but also enjoy the resort as a guest. Eliminate the $100 – 200 per night lodging cost anchoring.  The food at their cafe is spectacular and reasonably priced. Also for a small fee of $10 you can spend a couple of hours soaking in one of the three soaking pools in their spa. Clothing is optional and the temperature of each tub goes from warm to too hot. A nice way to finish off the night before heading back to the boat. After a nice cafe breakfast the next morning, I spent the day working on my laptop on the boat. Reception was a little iffy so I decided to raise the hotspot up the flag halyard, which resolved the issue and allowed me to keep working until it was time to head off to Sucia Island. There were very little winds so I motored out towards Fox Cove and anchored in the channel between Little Sucia and Fox Cove. It was approximately the same place I had first ever anchored Satori, or any sailboat, and was in a spectacular position for the night. A couple I ran into in Fox Cove remembered Satori back when the previous owner was still living aboard in Semiahmoo and mentioned the space station flying overhead at 11pm. At 11pm on the nose I watched the station come into view next the the brightest star on the horizon, then watched it speed up as it came overhead, then disappear on horizon over Sucia. To imagine a woman has been living on that flying spaceship for six months is astounding.

Fox Cove, Sucia Island - Strait of Georgia is the gap in the center of the photo.
Fox Cove, Sucia Island – Strait of Georgia is the gap in the center of the photo.

 

Around 1am the winds backed from the Northwest. Perhaps the worse position to be was in that channel while the winds built and the seas grew. By 3am the fetch coming from the Strait of Georgia caused the current to speed up and put me into an eddy with breakers nearby. By 5am I decided that the anchor rode was not in a good position. Because of the currents I was no longer getting held bow to the waves and wind. She would sail through the current into the eddy, then get caught and sweep back into the current again. The other issue I noticed was the angle of the rode would run back to the stern of the boat. I decided I didn’t like it any longer and moved into Fox Cove until the that afternoon, then moved around into Fossil Bay so I could be protected from both North and South exposure. Once I dropped anchor I realized that I was the only boat in the bay using their anchor. Everyone else was tied to the park buoys instead. I was far enough towards Mud Bay that I didn’t worry about it. Lots of mud underneath. I also discovered an old relic of an iron boiler that likely came from the abandoned steamship left in Echo Bay in 1902. It’s located north of the Mud Bay entrance on the other shore just under the waterline. After spending the day in Fossil Bay I decided to head to Friday Harbor for the night so I could pick up some groceries. Sailing down the President and San Juan Channels were spectacular. Winds were fifteen to twenty knots and I enjoyed staying as close hauled as possible, which meant hand steering to keep her moving fast enough and close enough to only need a few tacks before close reaching to Friday Harbor.  I kept my waypoints from my last visit so I was able to anchor a little deeper into the bay just north of the marina.

Fossil Bay, Sucia Island. Taken from Mud Bay
Fossil Bay, Sucia Island. Taken from Mud Bay

 

I spent half the day working from The Bean Cafe, which has friendly servers and is in a good environment to leave Sasha leashed outside. Just about every person had a chance to play with Sasha and say hello. Half of the customers is enough to satisfy her needs of attention beyond myself for the rest of the week. The winds began building during the day and by mid-afternoon they were gusting pretty good. I decided to finish up work from the boat and have a look at the anchorage. Satori was in a good position but she was sitting on the lee of the bay so if the winds built anymore, she may drag and run aground. On the way to the boat a young guy and I had a chat and when I mentioned a Westsail, he said it was his dream boat. I offered him to visit while I was getting the boat put away so I could sail to a more protected bay. I recognized his voice from Shilshole Marina and discovered he once lived aboard his boat near my dock, and shared the laundry facilities. He and his girlfriend decided to move into the San Juans and he took a job with vessel assist. His story of crossing the Columbia River bar at max ebb with an inexperienced crew brought back memories of my own adventures. I think we both share the ambition to sail to the South Pacific, as well as sailing in heavy weather and currents. We exchanged info and he left me with a new experience of grapefruit cider to find when I get home.

Getting under-weight in Friday Harbor. Satori motored from the anchorage and ran downwind in twenty knot winds.
Getting under-weight in Friday Harbor. Satori motored from the anchorage and ran downwind in twenty knot winds.

 

Blind Bay, Shaw Island
Blind Bay, Shaw Island

 

For whatever reason I was a little nervous about getting into twenty knot winds. Perhaps it was the amount of other boats nearby, the confines of passages and channels and not having a staysail to keep Satori steady. I saw twenty-six knots on the instrument but it really wan’t anything I couldn’t handle. It was downwind through the windiest parts and then the winds died completely once I was reaching west. Getting into anchorage at Shaw Island was no problem, and the wind speed and direction were much better for staying the night at anchorage. Through the night and the next morning the winds never reached beyond fifteen knots. I am uncertain what they were back in Friday Harbor. The next morning I ended up sailing to Rosario Strait but once in the strait the winds died so I motored back to Anacortes. By the time I was at anchor it was getting dark. The next morning I woke up and was under-weigh by 6:00 am. I was hauling ass through the strait so I lowered my throttle so I could time the slack tide getting through Admiralty Inlet. The seas were calm and there were very little winds. Getting through was easy and due to lack of winds I continued motoring until around Point No Point in Puget Sound. I raised the spinnaker for about an hour, making good time but then again the winds died. I motored the rest of the way back to Shilshole.

Cap Sante anchorage with oil refinery in the background. Not a very peaceful place.
Cap Sante anchorage with oil refinery in the background. Not a very peaceful place.

 

Sasha sleeping in the spinnaker
Sasha sleeping in the spinnaker

I’ve taken a week off from sailing. The mainsail cover project has been started, storm sails are completed and ready to pick up from Schattauer, and I have done an excellent job procrastinating on the staysail deck hardware project. I spent some time cleaning the exterior teak, some interior reorganizing, replaced the engine fuel filter and engine coolant. The pace at which I am able to continue accomplishing each task has been manageable. Satori’s blog has been relocated to a new domain, and I’ve added a YouTube channel so I can share video along with the photos available through this blog. I doubt I will have time to edit stories but I’m happy with simply providing to you short cuts of some of the sailing adventures I’ve been enjoying. I will also try to dig into the video archive and post some of the past cuts I have never published. I hope you enjoy this next phase of Satori’s refit and adventures. Enjoy the summer.

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